Sunday, April 15, 2007

Blogging and Etiquette

Can the Two Converge?
We all know how fast the blogs are growing. As the numbers increase, we find a diverse range of blogs and therefore, bloggers. We also find that the freedom allowed and encouraged in the internet has given rise to some discomfort among users.
In Malaysia, we have not discussed the need for a code of conduct among internet users (read:bloggers). Should we?
Here, some people have gone directly to the courts to seek redress over alleged defamatory postings in the blogs.
In the United States, a debate is raging about the need to have some etiquette or a form of code (of conduct and ethics) to prevent abuse. This came about after a prominent technology blogger received threats to her life, in her blog.
Fearing for her life, Kathy Sierra decided to quit blogging. Following this, some of her friends and supporters, including two internet luminaries, decided that the time has come for internet users to discuss the issue of blogging etiquette.
Why is it so difficult to make a decision on whether or not to allow crap, vitriol, abuse and all those negative and evil things in our blogs?
If we're not talking about cyberspace, blogosphere and the internet, it would be so easy.
As Technorati founder David Sifry said: "One of the core principles that the internet is built on is the principle of free speech".

Here's a quote from the article:
"A lot of this is really kindergarten ethics. It's the adult way to handle this kind of thing. How do we make distinctions between a vibrant, healthy but rational debate versus hate speech and lunatics? I don't think it's that difficult and I don't think any responsible bloggers are opposed to that." - Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

Read the article here.

Read also this, this and this.


Rocky's Bru said...

Blog ethics, anyone?

This issue will be talked about for quite a while. Malaysian bloggers may not have discussed this formally but we have talked about it among ourselves. Should we have a code of ethics for bloggers? My immediate answer is yes, it would be good to have a code of ethics but one that does not sacrifice freedom of expression and, at the same time, does not jeopardize blogger integrity.

Not easy but who said it was going to be easy to have a freer media and free speech?

When we start talking about this formally, it will not be a question that can - or should - be answered quickly. Blogging is still evolving, just like cyberlaws are being tried by some people who have money (not necessarily their own money) to sue.

In Malaysia (where bloggers are outspoken, credible and are hated for their guts, this issue will be confronted very soon. On May 19, when the Bloggers United of Malaysia meet, this issue will definitely be discussed. The National Alliance of Bloggers will champion this issue and others that are relevant to bloggers.

This trick is not to let certain quarters (read the part of the government where the PM and his 4th floor boys, Zam, FAK, Shahziman live and the mainstream media, especially Kalimullah's NST and Hishamuddin Aun's Beritan Harian) hijack the issue.

The Ancient Mariner said...

When you have code of ethics and rules etc. then its goodbye freedom of speech.

Bloggers can moderate comments of their blogs so lets not play to the gallery and just simply consign trash into trash cans. Kitar semula.

Who decide what is trash? Well we do or else we shoudnt be in this business.

Jane Sunshine said...

A code of ethics is a great idea because it organizes blogging, but at the same time, if drafted carefully, can be wide enough to encapsulate freedom of speech in the true sense of the constitution. In fact, when the constitution is politically repressed, civil society (that's us folks!) can move towards generating constitutionalism.

Also, I hope this is not awkward,I have given you a Thinking blogger award!

alliedmartster said...

Totally no relation to this posting,
for this blog readers or bloggers who are interested in the development of NAB - All Blogs, email to to keep yourself in the loop of things to come. This is early stage yet, but this will act as a reflector email to disseminate info to those who are keen.

Mr. Smith said...

Who are bloggers? They represent exactly the society we live in and our community is composed of both saints and sinners, the good and the bad, police and thieves, males and females, the scrupulous and the unscrupulous. And of course, the unemployed females.(sic)
Can we have a society comprising only saints?
Even a place of worship cannot dream of having such a composition?
Policing bloggers is akin to policing those who gather at teh tarik stalls and kopi tiams to gossip.
How on earth can we impose ethics on them?

BigDogDotCom said...

Blogging ethics is the merger between communications etiquette and writing ethics and acceptable universal values.

No plagiarism, when use people's material - credit them, no falsifying info for article, do not lie etc etc etc.

But then again, if people (bloggers) simply do not adhere to these positive virtues, there is very little anyone can do anything about.

Ethics in the Blogosphere is selfregulatory and self-imposed.

old female fart said...

Heather Havenslein is right - blogosphere is but a microcosm of the homosphere it represents with all of its conflicting, contradictory characteristics. Integrity/Corruption; Morality/Immorality; Decency/Indecency; Vice/Virtue; Good/Evil etc etc etc.

The one thing that the homo sapiens has is free will (not free speech which is a man-made concept begotten out of another man-made device , democracy).

As in the outer world where civil society chooses to self regulate and establish order through codes of religion, ethics and behaviour, constitutions and laws, blogosphere will inevitably have to do the same. For without a doubt the blacker side of human nature will surface and some kind of control becomes imperative.

There has to be blogging morals and blogger etiquette and as so eloquently put by O'Reilly (not sure) "...managed civil dialogue is actually the freer speech. Free speech is enhanced by civility..."

NAB must take the lead and you'll be respected for this!

raden galoh said...

i guess it's a good move but am not sure if it's practically a good see like the dining's chartered somewhere but whenever in a hotel, i see (and sometimes amongst them too) some who don't follow the etiquette...

one part of me is also condemning this 'late' act...shouldn't they think about it when they first developed MSC? Didn't they think what cyberspace would bring or do to the nation? Now, after we blog and so many bloggers emerge aday by day, they think of this etiquette...this action sounds more like restricting the bloggers way of expressing themselves.

But then gain, maybe it's a good move to remind us not to go overboard...

shar101 said...

Ah! Blog Ethics (Don't sue me Rocky for doing the "P" thingy).

The NYT carried the same article on this issue which ended with "Free speech is enhanced by civility".
*Looks like OFF read it too*

Whether it is self-regulatory or censorship, there will come a time for Malaysian bloggers to adopt some form of acceptable behavior in their blog postings and/or comments whilst allowing for as much free expression without descending into ad hominem vitriol and/or diatribe.

It is also vital to look at the issue from a local perspective viz a viz the U.S. What's happening there may not be applicable to us due to our Asian mindset for 'giving face' when engaging 'off-line' (real life) which hopefully will manifest itself onto the 'on-line' cyber world.

However, herein, lies OUR pandoras box when the free flow of internet communication gets hijacked by 'Mr/Ms Anonymity' with schizophrenic tendencies.

Therefore, if blogging is still evolving here, let's push the envelope to see how far we Malaysians can handle FOS and FOE to suit our unique circumstances which includes my right "to ignore or engage and pulverize the idiot". Within reasonable civility, of course.

Kata Tak Nak said...

Eventually blogging will mature and find its own level. Its kind of a wild wild west thing now. Shootings and quick draws are the norm. It will mature and it must mature or it will die an unnatural death. I am in favour of some kind of decorum but the codes must be unwritten. Let us find our own acceptable behaviour coz sooner or later we will be asking for it.
In its infancy let it find its direction first. I have faith in bloggers, they know whats best for them, well at least I think so.

The Ancient Mariner said...

We cannot possibly have 2 sets of rules, one for the transparent and responsible bloggers and another for the those who for whatever reasons, prefer to remain anonymous.

In my book, those who refuse to identify themselves are really no better than purveyors of 'surat layang' and since you cannot completely ignore them, you 'layan' them at your own peril.

I am very transparent and will be responsible for the 'moderated' comments in my blog. If anyone can still get offended, then its tough shit, very sorry and all that, and you are very welcome to see me in court.